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The Center for a New American Security has released a great resource page titled “Flashpoints: Security in the East and South China Seas,” which includes an interactive map of major international “flashpoints” in the seas since 1950. The page is worth spending some time on, particularly given the growing importance of the region in terms of international security, and the potentially volatile mix of climate change, food insecurity, resource extraction, trade and territorial dispute that characterize these important waters.
For the past few years, the United States had made an unmistakeable shift in foreign policy attention to the Asia-Pacific region (President Obama has described this change as a “pivot,” though the U.S. government is not necessarily comfortable with that term of art). There are both military and civilian dimensions to this shift, and the U.S. will need to deftly combine development, diplomacy and defense in order to maintain a sustainable and beneficent influence in the region. (more…)